ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
June 11, 2009. This page contains all
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
the winner is ... Alice Springs! By ERWIN CHLANDA.
The Finke has many heroes but the overall winner is Alice Springs.
Not only is the desert race an outback social event without parallel,
and evidence of the town’s astonishing technical know-how, it is also a
public relations tour de force worth $20m to $25m in Australia alone.
This estimate comes from Mike Drewer, media manager for the desert race
for the seventh time this year.
Adelaide based Mr Drewer is hired by about 10 motor racing events
around Australia each year to assist the media – and to keep them in
There were 76 media staff registered this year, from the NT, SA, WA,
NSW and Victoria, about 60% from print and 40% radio, TV and the web,
says Mr Drewer.
He says no systematic media analysis and monitoring has yet been done
of news reporting of the Finke race, but the Clipsal 500 is getting
$60m in value of media coverage.
Mr Drewer claims the Finke is now one of the world’s three top desert
races, along with the Baja in California and the Paris to Dakar.
Another Finke regular is Will Hagen, the ABC Grandstand’s national
motor sports commentator and reporter.
He is less bullish than Mr Drewer about the news coverage the Finke
gets, and its translation into promotion dollars.
But he says this race is truly a sport, not a business, and as such has
a great future.
And anyway, with nearly 600 competitors, it’s the biggest motor sports
event in the country measured by participation.
Mr Hagen says followers around the nation, and maybe to a growing
extent also the world, will appreciate the Finke because it is still
truly wild, while many other events are increasingly run on
“emasculated, colorless, flavorless circuits on undulated billiard
He says a driver in the Tasmanian V8 Challenge was complaining about
safety, the fences weren’t good enough for him.
“That track is just 2.4 kilometers.
“He’s got guys with fire extinguishers within about 400 meters of him
at the furthermost point and he’s complaining about the facilities.
“I don’t know what he would think if he came to the Finke Desert Race.
“We know Dakar is dangerous.
“We know the Finke Desert Race is dangerous.
“People get hurt and people sometimes, unfortunately, get killed,” says
“Yet nearly 600 people entered the Finke this year.”
“Same with Dakar.
“That’s why people went into motor sports originally.
“They want to take on something that’s a real achievement if you can do
“And if you can win it, wow! You can stand high.”
Patronage – by spectators as well as media – is hindered because Alice
is a long way from anywhere, says Mr Hagen.
So it’s hard to get the message across.
“It was hard for Rally Australia, which is based in Perth, to get the
message across even to the eastern states.”
There are other yardsticks by which to measure the importance of the
Says Mr Hagen: “Mr Jimco was here last year, the [American] who builds
the buggies for this race.
“The Finke is a major event, but it has a smaller crowd and recognition
through the media generally.
“It’s very big in the Territory.
“Round Australia, in general terms, if you added up TV, magazines it
rates pretty well, but newspapers are not so aware of it.
“It was on ABC national news.
“It might have taken the fire [destroying] Brad Prout’s buggy to get it
there, but it was quite a long segment [on Sunday].
“It’s gaining [in media coverage] but it’s a long way behind.
“The thing that gets marketed all the time is the V8 Supercars.
“It has the money to market it. It is a business that is based on motor
“Finke isn’t a business.
“This is motor sport.
“This event is well situated, I believe, for the long term.
“It’s setting itself up with a wonderfully solid and meaningful base
that in my opinion will stand by it for years and years to come as a
growing event, because it means a lot to the competitors and to the
public who watch it.”
Stuart Bowes is a freelance photographer based in Adelaide who gets
assignments the world over.
He’s been covering the Finke each year since 2005, this year for ACP
publications Top Gear Australia, Auto Action, Overlander and Two Wheels.
What attracts the media to the Finke?
“Adventure, experience, conquering the unknown, the desert, the middle
of Australia,” says Mr Bowes.
“People in capital cities admire the adventure of it.
“They know about Alice Springs, the place of the explorers, but are not
familiar with the surrounds.”
He says a car on a race track is a familiar thing, but not on what’s
“just a track in the middle of nowhere”.
Mr Bowes says usually people with money, resources, backing and
“But in this event, especially in the bikes section, people can prepare
for 12 months, throw a lot of money at it.
“But it’s a test of yourself, your ability and your machinery.
“And you can’t fully prepare for a thing like that.
“You never know what will happen.”
Just ask race favourite Brad Prout what happened to his #3 Jimco
Chevrolet 6 litre buggy, rumoured to have been worth $300,000.
time for Macklin. COMPILED by ERWIN CHLANDA.
Minister Jenny Macklin is having a challenging week in Alice Springs as
the Central Land Council – an agency within her department – is under
sustained scrutiny and attack, and she is moving to freeze out
Tangentyere from the $120m deal to – finally – provide decent living
conditions for the people in the town camps. We’ve asked Ms Macklin’s
minder to arrange an interview with the Minister. These are these
issues we want to raise with her.
The Federal Court sets aside (throws out) a decision by the CLC to
block exploration in the Simpson Desert by a company owned by Central
Petroleum. The company tells the Stock Exchange: “The CLC has not
explained ... as required by law, the processes undertaken by them.
“It has been revealed that contrary to the provisions of the Aboriginal
Land Rights Act ... the CLC did not facilitate initial meetings with
all of the relevant Traditional Owners.
“The CLC acknowledged that it may not have followed proper procedures.”
• • •
The CLC’s performance is under attack from petitioners in Hermannsburg.
“This country is ours and we wish to control it ourselves without the
Central Land Council,” the petition, signed by over 400 people states,
according to the ABC.
The CLC’s view is that this call for direct negotiation with the
Australian Government “is a reflection of the confusion
surrounding the issue and the pressure put on Aboriginal people over
the community leasing issue”, according to a CLC media release.
Now from the family of widely respected Warlpiri elder Thomas Rice
Jangala say the CLC is treating him “shabbily” and “sometimes
misrepresent our views to government and push their own agenda”.
They suggest that it is maybe time “that the Warlpiri had their own
Land Council so we can look after our own affairs”. (See letter this
Under the Land rights Act as it now stands setting up their own land
council is the only option for groups who want to negotiate without the
• • •
The Act under which the CLC operates says it is not allowed to enter
into commercial deals that “enable it to receive financial benefit”.
Yet the CLC has the majority shareholding in the multi million dollar
investment company Centrecorp. Is the CLC in contravention of the Act?
Earlier this year, Ms Macklin’s department told the Alice Springs News:
“It is the Department’s understanding that Centrecorp is not a
related entity at law to the Central Land Council and the CLC is not at
risk because of any commercial activities of Centrecorp.”
Ms Macklin made no further comment.
How can that be so, we persist in asking?
A well informed source from within government, speaking to us on the
condition they are not named, says Centrecorp’s trust deed precludes
the company from paying money to the CLC. End of story.
Not so: We obtain a copy of the trust deed and it seems to say the
opposite, namely that Centrecorp can make payments “in good faith of
remuneration to any officer, servant or shareholder of the Trustee in
return for any services actually rendered to the Trustee or reasonable
and proper rental for any premises leased to the Trustee”. A nice
little earner for the CLC – now or in the future? And a violation of
its obligations under the Act?
• • •
Does CLC own the new $16m building? Or does the Commonwealth, and is it
at liberty to put it to good use at some time in the future?
• • •
Member for Lingiari Warren Snowdon (whose mantra is “more money, more
money”) has an almost perfect record of failure in matters of
Indigenous health and regional services over more than two decades, as
a politician or (between stints in Canberra) as an operative of the
After more than 30 years of landrights, the Federal Government saw
itself compelled to tell Aborigines how to spend their dole, and how to
care for houses given to them by the taxpayer. Meanwhile the CLC spends
four times as much on its administration (nearly $10m a year) than it
distributes to the people on the ground from mining royalties, that
other form of sitdown money. And now Prime Minister Kevin Rudd promotes
Mr Snowdon to Minister for Indigenous Health, Rural and Regional Health
and Regional Services Delivery.
CLC urged to respect
senior Warlpiri man
Sir,– On Tuesday, May 19 we went to the Central Land Council to discuss
royalty monies rightly belonging to our family for the Mikanji and
Mirawarri, Ngapa (Rain) Dreaming places near Yuendumu.
We were told by a staff member of the CLC that our ownership was in
dispute. Others were claiming that they were the rightful owners.
Thomas Rice Jangala (pictured) is one of the most senior men of our
people. He is also a member of the Central Land Council.
White staff members of the CLC refused to acknowledge Mr Rice’s status.
They treated him shabbily, with no respect.
The staff member involved decided himself to freeze payments on the
basis of one letter from people we know well who have no right to this
country. He decided to ask the anthropologists at the CLC for advice.
Mr Rice is our senior anthropologist. The white anthropologists, many
of them new and inexperienced, will have to ask him for his advice and
At the time there was a white anthropologist waiting in our country for
Mr Rice to help them do site clearance work. He is the expert.
The CLC staff member refused to listen to him. When he came back again
to meet with this staff member he was left waiting for hours.
The staff member was very obviously avoiding us. He hid from us. He
refused to meet with Mr Rice.
When David Ross, the Director, was asked to do something he said that
he had no authority to direct that staff member.
The CLC has made a lot of mistakes in the past. These mistakes have
caused a lot of fighting and feuding amongst our people.
The CLC sometimes misrepresent our views to government and push their
own agenda. They don’t always listen to us and they tell us what to do
with our own money.
Maybe it’s time that the Warlpiri had their own Land Council so we can
look after our own affairs.
The Egan Family
The camp people Tangentyere is
paid to serve don’t have a voice
The Alice Springs News has been covering issues in the town camps for
more than 10 years, frequently under the threat of trespass prosecution
from Tangentyere Council, the organisation funded lavishly by the
public to help the wretched town camps in Alice Springs.
As a provider of municipal services, as a tenancy manager, as a
consultant on opportunities for the camps, some of which are in
outstandingly attractive locations, as a provider of security, and a
lobbyist for effective government attention Tangentyere could have made
a difference: it failed on all counts.
Our stories are on the web.
Poor reporting in other media often starts with the failure to grasp
that Tangentyere has no formal power whatever over the camps.
The leases over them are held by separate housing associations.
Over the years Tangentyere has – in the eyes of the camp dwellers –
twisted its intended role as their servant to one of being their
master, despite their proclamation that “Our bosses are our clients and
our clients are our bosses” (see their website).
The News has spoken with several camp leaders who are afraid of
Tangentyere, or would not act without its approval.
Also seemingly afraid (or otherwise downright irresponsible) have been
authorities, such as the NT Government health inspectors.
We reported their petty insistence that a motel owner replace a couple
of cracked tiles in his laundry, while in the camp over the motel’s
back fence, dead dogs, human faeces and vast piles of rubbish failed to
attract their attention.
Tangentyere, and its stalwart supporter Warren Snowdon, our Federal
Member and newly appointed Minister for Indigenous Health, Rural and
Regional Health and Regional Services Delivery, have endlessly
complained about being underfunded, indeed “starved” for funds – thus
justifying poor performance of municipal-type and tenancy management
functions in the town camps.
This has gone unchallenged in the media which time and again reports
without question bleeding heart claims by politicians.
A recent example: Greens Senator and Indigenous affairs spokesperson
Rachel Siewert recently chimed into the debate by asserting that
Tangentyere had been operating on the “smell of an oily rag” and had
suffered from “decades of under funding”.
We asked her how she knew that, and has she obtained from Tangentyere a
detailed statement about their budget to support her assertions?
An aide dodged the question, saying “Rachel has been dealing with the
council for a number of years”.
So have we and the fact is Tangentyere will not disclose any financial
The total funding figure of $23m – that’s $4m more than the Alice
Springs Town Council budget for running the entire town – frequently
published in these pages over the years, has never been challenged by
And who would argue with it if the camps were safe and clean places for
people to make their homes in?
The annual reports on Tangentyere’s website are mum on money. The
latest available, 2005-06, says the organisation is dependent on grants
– up to 100 in any one year – and receives no core funding.
When you look for details and go to
http://www.tangentyere.org.au/publications/annual_reports/ this is what
you get: “403 - Forbidden: Access is denied. You do not have permission
to view this directory or page using the credentials that you
This is the kind of meaningless fob-off the taxpayer gets: “Grants are
predominantly from the Australian [five departments] and Northern
Territory [six departments] governments, with occasional grants
received from the Alice Springs Town Council and various philanthropic
I’ve asked Geoff and Walter Shaw many times about financial details but
they treat these enquiries as some sort of a joke.
This secrecy, at least so far as the public is concerned, creates a
marvellous opportunity for making interesting funding decisions.
The Shaw family dominates a nice little housing estate on the banks of
the Charles River, the Mt Nancy Town Lease.
Old man Geoff, my long-term sparring partner, is the vice-president of
Tangentyere. His son Walter is the president. His daughter Barbara is
on the executive and is a key activist against the Federal Intervention
and the now likely compulsory acquisition of the leases.
Geoff is Tangentyere’s former general manager for over 20 years.
Want a sob story from a camp dweller?
Ring Barbara – unless she happens to be overseas or interstate telling
the UN and whoever else will listen about the lousy treatment
Aborigines are getting in Australia.
We once ran a story about an unmarried Shaw occupying a four bedroom
house at Mt Nancy while two families shared a two bedroom house
We asked Tangentyere whether Geoff, given his employment background and
resulting superannuation arrangements (and surely also his wife’s
should be taken into account), would ordinarily qualify for public
Mr Tilmouth told us: “Geoff Shaw is a Vietnam veteran on a pension and
qualifies for community housing.”
Failure to address the inequities inherent in this approach to
tenancies was pinpointed by Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin
when she spoke to the parliament on May 25 about compulsory acquisition
of the leases:
“[Tangentyere Council] will not agree to a fair and consistent tenancy
management system. The Australian government and the Northern Territory
government cannot agree to a system that does not give tenants in these
town camps the same protections that apply to other Australians in
other public housing areas.”
Back on July 29, 1998, under the heading “Fringe campers out in the
cold and rain as organisations squabble,” we wrote that a “family group
of more than 20, mostly elderly adults and their grandchildren, spent
last week with a leaking tent and a few old tarpaulins their only
shelter from winter temperatures and rain.” They had been evicted from
Mr Griffin, of the Aboriginal Housing and Information Referral Service,
said he would “hope” that Tangentyere Council would help. Mr Tilmouth
said: “This is not the responsibility of Tangentyere Council, but the
responsibility must fall back onto the [NT] Government.”
That same NT Government he says Aborigines can’t trust.
As a pattern for the next decade of our dealings with Tangentyere was
being established, I wrote the following editorial: “Tangentyere
Council’s first response to media enquiries about the drama [we were
reporting on] was to try to muzzle their own clients and to bully the
media into running only Tangentyere’s line.”
Their media office fired off an admonishment to our reporter for
entering the Warlpiri Camp “without permission of Tangentyere Council”.
In fact, said the organisation, media representatives should not enter
the camp “for reasons of a cultural and traditional nature”.
The News was told if we used the pictures and information gathered
“without first allowing the Executive Director, William Tilmouth, to
view the material and speak with you on this matter, then we will have
no other alternative but to refer the matter to the Press Council”.
This threat came after we had specifically requested information from
him, information not forthcoming until three days later, and only
because we had made it clear we were going to proceed with the report.
Tangentyere’s approach to news gathering is completely unacceptable.
Our photos in that edition were taken not only with permission of the
people concerned, but with their express encouragement.
We got their side of the story from them because we felt the public
needed to know why people in our affluent town are living in
In the 11 years that followed Tangentyere learned absolutely nothing.
We have been ignoring their directions and bringing to the town, and
the world via our online edition, stories of horror and suffering from
the camps’ hapless residents as well as stories about the
ineffectiveness and buck-passing of governments at all levels in
dealing with the situation.
A prominent example has been our tackling over many years the glaringly
obvious failures of the Memorandum of Understanding between Tangentyere
and the Alice Springs Town Council. The current Town Council have taken
a step in the right direction with assertive action on dog control,
overwhelmingly welcomed by town camp residents.
The funding governments should not now feel bad cutting loose this
In fact, they have a responsibility to the “little people on the
ground” to replace Tangentyere with something competent and
transparent, whose performance we look forward to covering.
August 4, the earliest date on which Ms Macklin’s notice to
compulsorily acquire under the Intervention legislation can now take
effect, will not come soon enough, for town camp residents and for
Alice Springs as a whole.
first Greek family arrived 50 years ago. By KIERAN FINNANE.
fifty years since Xanthippi Hatzimihail arrived in Alice Springs with
her four young sons, landing in an Ansett DC3 at the old airport at 12
It had been three years since she had seen her husband, Alexios (Alex).
Their two and half year old son Mihail (Michael) had been born after
Alex left their home on the isle of Kos in Greece in 1956, in search of
work. This had taken him first to Darwin and then south, working along
the highway till he reached Alice in 1957.
There were other Greek men in the town, single men who’d worked their
way north from Port Augusta, but with the arrival of Xanthippi and the
boys, the Hatzimihails would become Alice’s first Greek family.
They hail originally from the port town of Bodrum in Turkey, which
faces the isle of Kos.
“We’re Asia Minor Greeks,” says Michael.
Alex was born on Paros, Greece but as a child went to Turkey where his
grandmother was living. In the Greco-Turkish conflict that arose with
the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, Alex escaped
from Turkey to Kos.
Xanthippi (nee Zouvrenou) was also an “Asia Minor Greek”.
Says Michael of his parents’ marriage: “In those days they worked to
keep the bloodline going.”
Alex was a boat-builder on Kos, but that work dried up after the World
War II; in fact the whole island economy was on its knees.
He had three sons, his wife, mother-in-law and his sister to feed. When
he heard that the Australian Government were looking for tradespeople,
he took the plunge, paying for his own passage to Darwin, so that he
could decide for himself when to return.
He could speak Italian, as the Italians had conquered Kos in 1912, and
Alex had attended an Italian school. He soon fitted in with a group of
Italian workers in Darwin and went with them when they headed south.
There was plenty of work in Alice. Among other jobs Alex helped build
the nurses’ quarters on the site of the old hospital in Stuart Terrace.
Housing blocks had been released on Eastside and he bought 59 Giles
street for 11 pounds, started building a house and negotiating with the
Department of Immigration to bring out his wife and boys. At first his
request was refused.
Michael says his father threatened to leave Australia but an
Immigration Officer in Darwin, a man of Greek origin, stepped in and
all of a sudden, in April, 1959, Alex received a letter saying his
family were on their way.
The house in Giles Street was nowhere near ready.
The Bonnani brothers – “at that stage there were three of them,” says
Michael – were building their own house a few doors away.
When they heard Alex’s family were due to arrive they stopped work
there and came over to help him. The roof was on and two rooms had been
enclosed by the time Xanthippi and the boys arrived.
Stamatios (Steve), the third born son, was just over five.
One of his earliest memories in Alice is of walking to the Eastside
shops with his mother and his brothers. Little Michael fell over and
bloodied his knee.
“A lady came out and helped patch him up. That was old Mrs Mostran and
she and her family became friends of our family from that day.”
There are other stories of early friendship and kindness.
Xanthippi could only speak Greek.
If the children were sick, Alex would explain to neighbours Susie
Zaharo and Lorna Juett what the problem was and they would write a note
in English for Xanthippi to take to the doctor.
He in turn would would write a note about treatment, which the ladies
would explain to Alex who would translate for his wife.
Xanthippi also reached out to the Aboriginal people around her.
Although she understands and can speak English, she is more comfortable
recalling these times in Greek.
She speaks to Michael who translates:
“The isolation was hard for Mum. She could see Aboriginal people
“She thought, ‘If I can befriend them, if I get sick, they’ll look out
“If they were passing Mum would offer them tea and cakes and biscuits.
“She noticed they would not drink the tea until she drank it first.
“A friend of Dad’s, an Aboriginal man, told him they were being
cautious because they knew of Aboriginal people being poisoned. When
Mum drank the tea they knew it was OK.”
In a stream of Greek I hear the words “Trigger and Daisy”.
Michael explains: “They were her friends, an Aboriginal couple.”
“Very good friends,” says Xanthippi in English.
“They were very loud, like Greek people,” laughs Michael.
Xanthippi had been an only child. When she left Kos, she left behind
her widowed mother and was not to see her again.
“When my mum left my grandmother died,” says Rita, the fifth born of
the family and the first person of Greek origin to be born in Alice (in
“It was too hard – her only child and all her grandchildren had gone.
“Mum couldn’t even go back for her funeral.
“It happened too soon after she’d left and it wasn’t financially
NEXT: Living conditions in the early days at 59 Giles Street were
humble, but the family were used to that.
Move to the Centre had big
It’s not every day
that a business in Darwin decides that there are more opportunities in
Alice Springs, but that’s what Alice Springs Helicopters did, moving
from Darwin to the Centre some five years ago. Mechelle Collins spoke
about the experience at the Alice launch of the NT Chief Minister’s
Export and Industry Awards last Thursday.
My husband Chris and I started our helicopter charter company in Darwin
17 years ago.
We had one helicopter, one client, a large debt and a lot of
We operated from an office under our house in Rapid Creek and while
Chris flew, I kept the books and worked several jobs to help pay the
bills; and together we raised our two young children.
Ten years later we had increased our client base, generally in mining
exploration, operated three helicopters and employed three
As most of our work seemed to come from Central Australia, we decided
it was time to set up a permanent base here, so we built a hangar and
offices on the Alice Springs Airport and by the end of 2003 had moved
everything down from Darwin.
At the same time we expanded into tourism, not realizing the task ahead
of us. A few flyers around Alice Springs should do it, we
The business grew and so did the popularity of our flights.
Shortly after, we joined the Chamber of Commerce which was one of the
best business decisions we’ve made.
In 2007 they encouraged us to enter the NT Chief Minister’s Export and
Industry Awards. And yes, you might ask what on earth a
helicopter charter company would export – so did we!
But our tourist flights and charters were now starting to sell
We were being sought out by film and television companies from the UK,
Europe, Japan, Canada and the US and were working with international
mining groups in exploration.
We did need some encouragement to enter. We knew it would be hard
work putting together a worthy application but this was our opportunity
to see how our company rated against others – for the first time. We
entered the Emerging Exporter Category.
In our saner moments, we didn’t like our chances!
That October we flew to Darwin for the Export Awards presentation night
and were astonished to be presented with an Encouragement Award.
The Judges said it was such a difficult task to choose the winner, they
felt compelled to include an award for the runner up – the first time
this had been done.
We were thrilled and feIt it was a turning point for our business.
Last year we entered again and won the Small Business Export Award from
an impressive list of competitors.
We attended the National Awards in Melbourne and were extremely proud
to not only represent the Northern Territory but Central Australia.
Unfortunately we didn’t win but it was a fabulous experience for such a
small Territory business.
Winning these awards has helped make the last two years the most
exciting and rewarding for us.
We were motivated to continue achieving, opening up further
opportunities for ourselves internationally and engaging a marketing
consultant to expand our tourism products.
It raised our profile in the business community and we are now
recognized not only as a leading player in Central Australian Tourism
but the leading provider of helicopter charter here.
We have received enormous support from the Northern Territory
Government, The Chamber, Tourism NT, Tourism Central Australia and
other Alice Springs operators.
We now operate six helicopters, employ five pilots, a marketing manager
We are so proud to be able to use the Export Awards logo wherever we
can as it says we have accomplished something very special.
For those of you who are considering entering this year, do it – if
only to find out more about yourselves.
It is a big step but the rewards are great.
Town Council adopts new
approach to recycling operation. By KIERAN FINNANE.
The Town Council is pushing ahead with its plans for an aluminium and
glass drink container recycling operation, but has changed approach.
Instead of running it out of the council depot and staffing it with
council employees, as originally announced, they have advertised a
The change was prompted by “suggestions from the community”, says Mayor
The recycling operation is part of a three-pronged strategy to reduce
litter, with liquor litter particularly in council’s sights.
The second prong is to raise money from a charge to landowners where a
takeaway liquor outlet is in operation.
These funds will help offset council’s expenses in removal of litter
from public places.
The charge has prompted angry protest from the ratepayers involved and
may yet be challenged in the courts.
First service of the new charge will not take place until late July.
Council would not expect notice of any legal action before then.
The third prong is the current revision of public place by-laws.
“This will lead to much tougher litter fines,” says Mr Ryan, as well as
a string of other measures to curb littering behaviour.
Mr Ryan is confident of a ready market for reprocessing aluminium cans,
but says council is looking for some innovative options for glass
One is to have the glass crushed.
Mr Ryan understands that ground glass can replace up to 50% of sand in
non-load bearing concrete.
Council could use such material extensively, for instance in its
“I understand 6000 stubbies produce one tonne of ‘sand’,” says Mr Ryan.
The tender is for a 12 month contract.
Mr Ryan expects the successful company would go on to tender for
business when the Territory Government introduces its own container
deposit scheme, mooted for 2011.
The tender closes on June 22.
Library venue a coup for Nu
art. By POP VULTURE.
The first exhibition in what is set to be a series of shows presenting
local artistic responses to the proposed development of the Angela
Pamela uranium mine unveiled over 40 contributions last Friday evening
at the Alice Springs Public Library.
There must have been around 90 punters in attendance and among them
were three whom you can see attending nearly every exhibition
opening the world over.
Pop Vulture eaves-dropped on their conversation.
The mid-nineties, beret wearing, clammy handed, latte sipper
(MNBWCHLS): People just want to appear to have a reaction to something
they have little intellectual knowledge about.
The free drinking free thinker (FDFT): What do you mean?
MNBWCHLS: Using mutation as a medium for inevitable evolution, so mid
to late eighties ...
Artist: I don’t think you’ve looked around properly, the mutation
medium is only a ripple in the pond of what is on the stage here.
I think the reflection of what could potentially affect generations to
come has become a strong focal point this reaction around.
FDFT: Why are they showing this exhibit in the library?
I am semi-homeless, due to frequently being in the doghouse, so I’ve
come to rely on exhibition openings for a dependable source of free
alcohol and food.
For certain there are many other venues that can afford themselves some
Artist: Be it accidental or deliberate, I think it’s a stroke of
This library will increase the exposure of the art and artists
The foot traffic through this place could never be rivalled by any
local gallery, and in case you haven’t noticed, demonstrations
involving the topic of the u-mine generally only draw attention from
the already converted.
This way people from all walks of life will stop and look.
But to keep things in the vein of normality, the exhibition will
relocate to “Watch This Space” in about a month’s time, including
further contributions from any who feel freshly inspired.
Will you be adding something to the movement, mid-nineties, beret
wearing, clammy handed, latte sipping guy?
MNBWCHLS: No, my life is one of a chameleonic refuge, for you see I
have no actual artistic talent myself, or any true inspiration for
creative medium, let alone the vision and radical transformation of
thought required to produce something brilliant and original.
Therefore I surround myself with people who create, so as to marry
myself with the illusion that my presence is always needed at one of
Artist: Well the rarity behind this show is its large community-driven
input, a rolling snowball of interest that will gather much attention
from members of the public as the installations will be in place for
the remainder of the month.
MNBWCHLS: With that I’m off to find a café with the most public
exposure, so as to be seen by many as I write on my laptop.
LETTERS: What a welcome to
Alice for Ghan passengers.
Sir,– This is a copy of a letter sent to Tangentyere Council’s William
Firstly, my sincere apologies for the delay in this letter reaching
you. It was supposed to have been written and sent almost two months
ago but other commitments prevented this arriving until now.
My partner and I were returning from Darwin aboard The Ghan on the
morning of Thursday, April 16. The train slowed as it headed in from
the northern gateway towards the Alice Springs Terminal.
We were absolutely disgusted by the sight of the amount and content of
rubbish consisting mostly of empty VB cans, discarded nappies, broken
glass, open but empty tins and a myriad of other filthy rubbish strewn
along the perimeter of the Namatjira Camp that abuts the railway line
near where it crosses over Lovegrove Drive.
This is just totally unacceptable as a practice in any civilised region
and I implore Tangentyere Council in partnership with the other
regional Aboriginal organisations to take control of the situation
Whilst Namatjira Camp may not be the official responsibility of
Tangentyere Council, it is located next to Morris Soak camp and the
area needs to be cleaned up and maintained. The situation is clearly
linked to the physiological and psychological health and safety of the
camp’s inhabitants and visitors – most especially the children and
Another town camp in full view of road travellers driving into town
from the north is located on the right hand side of the Stuart Highway
opposite the MVR buldings. It, too, is a complete and utter disgrace.
Our town prides itself on its history and iconic status with the
domestic and global tourism travellers. For those images to be many
people’s first impression is a blight on the whole community.
As a successful business operator for a period in excess of 10 years,
my passion for this place, its people and its spirit is well known. The
deplorable state [of] town camps (legal or otherwise) becomes a
reflection of the whole town.
I am also a member of the Tourism Central Australia Executive and the
Chamber of Commerce. Both these organisations are negatively impacted
on along with the entire Alice Springs community.
I can no longer stand by and watch this beautiful town filled with some
very special people and ‘magic’ locations in some of the most stunning
geographical areas of Australia relegated to the status typical of
areas in Soweto, South Africa (to which I have been to and witnessed
the levels of degradation and poverty first hand) and the
The collective of Aboriginal organisations in Central Australia need to
bind together to address this deplorable situation. Centrecorp, Central
Land Council, Arrente Council, Lhere Artepe and Tangentyere Council all
have a collective responsibility to address this situation and are all
to be held to account.
Whilst I don’t pretend to know or understand the extent of the politics
and economics involved here, I see that the very people these
organisations were created to assist living in fourth world squalor
while many millions of dollars earned through royalties etc. lie hidden
in various bank accounts.
The actions of the people who hide and do not spend this money on its
people is deplorable and they should be held accountable in the civil
and criminal justice systems.
The Aboriginal people of this region deserve much better than they are
getting. Utilising much of these funds through health, education and
employment programs would go some long way in beginning to address the
impoverished status of the Aboriginal Alice Springs communities.
Those programs are not only the responsibilty of all three tiers of
governments – Aborginal corporations must invest back into helping to
develop some pride and honour in what it means to be Aborginal.
Who pays for
Sir,– In my weekend paper was a glossy mag called My Australia brought
to you and me by Tourism Australia.
And paid for by you and me.
Designed no doubt by some overpaid whizzkid who knew stuff all about
“It’s all in the cool message man” or some such crap.
It is a dog’s breakfast of information-deficient inaccuracies.
Take page 21. A full page picture of Standley Chasm. The ‘topic’ –
The subtext? Tassie wilderness, the ACT, Central NSW, the Gawler
Ranges, the Tiwi islands.
Any mention of Standley Chasm? Central Australia? The NT even? Not an
Turn to page 33. Under the “Driving holidays” banner is the Red Centre
Way: “Highlights include Finke Gorge National Park ...”
Despite the fact that the route shown on the acompanying map doesn’t go
anywhere near Hermannsburg, let alone FGNP.
Nor does it mention that FGNP is 20 odd kms of high clearance 4WD from
Who knows what market this flummery was aimed at?
Do people really make holiday decisions based on where Maggie Tabberer
goes (who? – she must be embalmed)?
If the tourism industry is in the hands of this mob we may as well fold
our tents and creep silently away.
ADAM'S APPLE: One visitor we
I’m sitting at the dining room table.
Generally a place of comfort, of conversation and dinner parties and
the place I type my column. But tonight I am neither relaxed nor
comfortable. In fact it would be safe to say I’m a bit of a wreck.
I am like a younger, larger, more Protestant, less talented version of
Woody Allen. I am a ball of neurosis and over-analysis. I am a twitchy
mess of ticks and startles.
Like a junkie before the score, I’m anxious. Paranoia has invited
itself to a meal at my table and tonight we dine on swine.
Swine Flu has come to the Alice and just like many of the young and
enthusiastic visitors to this town, swine flu has shacked up with a
Swine Flu will stay with her for a week or so and then will move on
once the local lass realizes Swine Flu is using her simply for meals
There’s no real love there. Swine Flu won’t feel remorse however.
Swine Flu will simply head to the nearest pub or public restroom and
before another local knows what hit them, Swine Flu will have seduced
them with their infectious personality.
Do you think Swine Flu would be easier for the public to deal with if
it wasn’t called Swine Flu?
I think pigs are pleasant enough creatures. Hell, I’ve seen Babe, one
and two. I cried like a Geelong fan after last year’s grand final when
I saw Charlotte’s Web.
But swine do have a filthy reputation. On the back of that filthy
reputation, two of the world’s greatest monotheistic religions don’t
even eat pigs, even though they are so delicious.
I’m pretty sure we would only be half as panicked if the world was
dealing with deer flu or a virus originating from baby wombats.
But an influenza that jumped the porcine/human divide is what we are
stuck dealing with and although the Territory is still relatively
unscathed, the hysteria that has come out of Mexico and Melbourne via
the media makes me second guess my own health.
You see I have a slight runny nose. My throat is a little tickly at the
moment and I have a cough. Is it time to panic?
Should I place my tissues in a sandwich bag before placing them in the
bin, or do I need to put them in some sort of hazardous waste disposal?
Is it time to call the guys from the E.T. movie with their massive
plastic sheets and hazmat suits?
Should I answer the door when the pizza guy turns up?
I am a bit hungry but God forbid I spread whatever plague lies within
my body. Do I have swine flu or is it a case of simple, bog standard
man flu? I can’t tell anymore.
I’ll do what most men do when faced with a health scare like this.
I’ll drink a glass of orange juice (pulp and all), I’ll take a couple
of Nurofen and I’ll try to get to bed early. I tell you all this
anxiety is bad for my health. As it happens, although swine flu is
really quite contagious, so are the other regular flus out in the big
disease-ridden planet we call home.
And even though there is all this talk about Tamiflu and whether the
government has enough of the stuff to hand out, a few days in bed seems
to be just as effective a treatment.
We love a good scare story though, don’t we?
We love an exaggeration. Whether it’s the dangers of swine flu or the
volume of my own nasal mucus, we love to tell the tall tale and fear
the worst fear.
At the pointy end of it all, I find myself becoming calm.
I don’t have the plague, the pox or the pork flu. I don’t even have
grounds for a day off work.
At the end of the day I calm myself with the knowledge that the Syrian
bloke who made my sandwich isn’t going to blow me up.
The Vietnamese family two doors down aren’t going to steal my job and
the Indian taxi driver isn’t going to drive me out into the desert just
because he wears a turban.
I know that regardless of what “they” say, I am going to leave the
plane from the same door I entered it.
I know that the vaccine for chicken pox didn’t render me a dribbling
mess and I know that playing footy is actually beneficial for my
I know that I really don’t care if a glass of red wine is good for me.
I don’t care if it’s bad for me. It’s a glass of red wine.
I know that I am going to use my mobile phone and I will wrap food in
I know that most of the time the only thing to fear is fear-mongering